Breakout Sessions

Breakout Sessions are 50 minutes in length and include a presentation followed by Q&A

10 Insights in 10 Years

Ten years ago at the NCGS Annual Conference, four schools announced the idea of creating the first girls’ school online. In those ten years, there have been more than 7500 student semester enrollments and more than 3000 educator professional development enrollments. Importantly, we’ve learned a lot along the way about: innovation in the girls’ school community; the place of online education in the financial sustainability of girls’ schools; and what face-to-face schools can learn from what works well online. This session is designed to share those findings and more in order to help schools translate findings into action for both the academics and operations of schools. What started with four schools dreaming up an idea and daring to try something new has blossomed into an organization that helps girls’ schools around the world do more for students and educators alike.

PRESENTERS: Brad Rathgeber, Head of School | One Schoolhouse; Laura Hotchkiss, Associate Head of Academics | Marlborough School; Kathryn Albee, Director of Teaching and Learning | Westover School; and Jemma Kennedy, Mathematics Department Chair | The Archer School for Girls


Apples, Yoga, and Happiness?  How a traditional girls school reinvented itself in 18 months.

Nardin Academy, a high-performing independent catholic school in the Buffalo area, has redesigned itself, maintaining its rigorous standards while becoming “happy” at the same time. By strategically selecting programming that enhances student well-being and happiness, Nardin Academy has truly transformed the educational experience for our students. Join us to find out how we were able to successfully facilitate faculty buy-in, increase student enthusiasm, and grow our community with one little word: “why”?

PRESENTERS: Kara Schwabel, Assistant Principal for Academics, and Adrienne Forgette, High School Principal | Nardin Academy


Architects of Change @ School

Inspiring and motivational, Architects of Change @ School (AOC) ignites the passion of students and truly provides them an outlet to Dare, Dream, and Do! Learn how to create a platform in school that brings such names as Maria Shriver, Bethany Hamilton, and so many more. This club operates more as a team, with each student member rotating through roles in production, research, and facilitation/moderating. Through the AOC motto of “Challenge what is, Imagine what can be, and Move humanity forward,” girls are engaging with dynamic leaders and forging relationships that benefit their resume and the school alike.

PRESENTERS: Rivka Bent, Executive Assistance to Head of School; Lauren Lek, Head of School; Jessica Hooper, Assistant Head of School; and Katie-Marie Zickert, Student | Academy of Our Lady of Peace


Benefits of a Girls-Only STEM Environment

81% of STEM girls are interested in pursuing a STEM career, but only 13% say it’s their first choice. Join Girl Scouts of the USA to learn about the importance of a girls-only STEM environment, the unique benefits of the Girl Scout Leadership Experience that connects hard and soft skills in STEM, and how Girl Scout-inspired curriculum could be used in the classroom to amplify traditional STEM teachings.

PRESENTERS: Nicole Ortiz, Senior Manager, School Engagement Strategy, and Kimberlee Salmond, VP of Research & Impact, Girl Scout Research Institute | Girl Scouts of the USA


Build a Culture of Innovation by Transforming Professional Development

In this session, you will meet school leaders and instructional technology coaches from three different schools. Learn how their partnership and personalized approach has transformed professional learning at their schools and built a critical mass of innovator educators. You will be exposed to a variety of strategies and models that have yielded positive results with teachers and school leaders, promoting a culture of collaboration, risk taking, and innovative approaches to learning and teaching. Leave feeling inspired to create a culture where innovation, collaboration, and learning are celebrated.

PRESENTERS: Lauren Conklin, Assistant Head of School for Academics | Mercy High School Burlingame; Jim Puccetti, Director, Teacher Development and Instructional Design | Knowing Technologies; John Aimé, Assistant Head of School | Santa Catalina School, and Kate Morin, Head of School | Mayfield Senior School


Building a Growth Mindset for Girls in STEAM

How do you create a successful STEAM program that builds a growth mindset for 4 to 12-year-old girls? This presentation focuses on the multifaceted approach one leading Australian school used to foster a culture of deep, engaged learning, including: leadership and strategic thinking required to drive change; research underpinning the neuroscience associated with spatial awareness and gender; evidence gathering about mindsets of early learners entering school towards STEAM; the learning cycle required to build skills and knowledge prior to expecting transference, innovative thinking, and action; how the physical environment affects engagement; and illustrations of practice that build competence, compassion, and enthusiasm.

PRESENTER: Sally Ruston, Head of Junior School | Abbotsleigh


Building Communities Beyond Service: Developing Student Voice and Risk-taking through Academic Public-Private Partnership

Today schools must ensure that students are prepared to engage and collaborate with communities and individuals who are different from themselves. The Bryn Mawr School, a private school, and Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women, a Title I public charter school, engaged in an academic cross-campus collaboration in which students learned about Baltimore City’s neighborhood segregation in the 1930s called “Redlining”, and conducted ethnographic neighborhood studies throughout the city. In this presentation, we will share how this project provided students and faculty with the opportunity to explore difference, take risks, and develop a sense of community leadership through cross-community collaboration.

PRESENTERS: Cristina Easton, Upper School Principal, and Shardae Shipman, English Teacher, New Teacher Mentor | Baltimore Leadership School for Young Women; and Irina Spector-Marks, History Teacher | The Bryn Mawr School


Building Powerful STEAM Pipes into the Real World

With learning underpinned by social enterprise and human centred design, a high degree of choice when developing technology tools, and student-driven projects, our students embrace the right conditions for developing future-ready competencies and an attitude of service and empathy. Our students experience real setbacks and triumphs alike while building resiliency. Pipelines in and out from our Korowa STEAM Lab to industry and education influence authentic experiences and  have allowed students to engineer, lead, and communicate their prototypes out to the world. An in-house female STEAM futurist plays a pivotal role in guiding and encouraging our STEAM generation.

PRESENTERS: Liana Gooch, Deputy Principal, and Sam Watkins, STEAM Coordinator | Korowa Anglican Girls’ School


A Collaborative Approach for Igniting Creativity and Computational Thinking

How can first graders inspire innovation in older students? We will share lessons of failure and success from a collaborative program for igniting creativity across grade levels. We will also share ideas for helping students develop spatial reasoning and computational thinking skills. Our Middle School students designed three-dimensional obstacle course mazes using a variety of resources, including 3-D printers and LittleBits. Another set of students created a two-dimensional map (to scale) of the mazes. First graders, who were learning basic mapping and coding skills, interpreted the map and programmed a robot to travel through the mazes alongside Upper School mentors.

PRESENTERS: Carter Warren, First Grade Teacher, and Jennifer Vermillion, Director of Innovative Learning | St. Catherine’s School


Connection, Community, and Voice: Social Justice and Digital Citizenship

Explore digital citizenship as an opportunity for students to engage in their communities and create change. We will share the evolution of our Digital Citizenship class and how our educational team, composed of the School’s Librarian, Dean of Social Justice, and Dean of Digital Education, collaborated to combine research, social justice themes, and digital tools to empower middle school students’ voices. We will break down the process, hear directly from the student experience, and view the student-created PSAs that are shared with LA County nonprofit organizations.

PRESENTERS: Shauna Davis, Dean of Digital Education & Associate Director of Academic Technology; Nikki Gomez, Head Librarian; and Pamela Wright, Dean of Social Justice and Community Partnerships | Marlborough School


Creating a Culture of Making: Innovation + Risk-taking in a Traditional Setting

Over the last eight years, The Marymount School of New York has opened four Fab Labs and makerspaces across three campuses. In this session, we will tell the story of how our making program started, how it changed over time, and how our school culture has evolved in response. How does a traditional school introduce innovative programs? How has the introduction of these innovative learning environments changed our approach to teaching and learning? How are we measuring the success and improving these programs? What lessons have we learned over the last eight years?

PRESENTERS: Jaymes Dec, Chair of Innovation, K-XII, and Martha Erskine, Director of Academic Resources and Information Systems & English Teacher | The Marymount School of New York


Dare to STEAM: Building Creative Innovators in a 1-12 School

St. Clement’s is a Grade 1-12 school in Toronto, ON, known for its history of academic excellence and close-knit community. Students achieve outstanding results and are admitted to top universities, yet it can be a struggle to encourage risk-taking and nurture curiosity. Find out how we created the conditions for teachers and students to take more risks. This fall, we launched Curious Kids – Project Based Learning for students in Grades 1-6, and an innovative STEAM project for our Grade 11 students, both initiated by teachers. What have we learned so far? How are we building on early failures and successes?

PRESENTERS: Heather Henricks, Vice Principal – Learning, Research, and Innovation; AnnMarie Zigrossi, Curriculum Department Leader; and Christine Castelli, Curriculum Department Leader | St. Clement’s School


Developing Confidence and Resilience: The benefits of experiential learning and global travel in preparing girls for life

In this session, attendees will learn about the many benefits of international travel programs at girls’ schools. Specific focus will be given to the effectiveness of empowering girls to lead, manage, and own their travel experience. By making day-to-day decisions, taking calculated risks, and making mistakes in a foreign country, girls can grow in confidence, embrace failure, and become more globally aware. Evidence of how experiential education has been successful in building character at St. Clement’s School in Toronto will be explored, as will how to balance exposure to the right amount of risk while providing a safe travel experience.

PRESENTERS: Dan Porter, Director – North America | World Challenge, and Louise Melville, Coordinator of Experiential Education | St. Clement’s School


Don’t Hire a Dud! A Toolkit for Hiring Practices

This session will support practices that require leaders to invest in a hiring team. You will leave this session with a clear three-step protocol for hiring teachers who are not only strong instructionally, but also provide evidence of a growth mindset and a team approach for the school community. You can expect to walk away with a toolkit of interview questions, committee member roles, and writing sample prompts that will help you screen for the best candidates in girls’ education.

PRESENTER: Mala Panday, Principal | The Young Women’s Leadership School of Queens


Dream of a Better World, Dare to Speak Your Truth, Do Make a Difference

We will outline a process by which students investigate a human rights issue and then engineer a slam poetry production which allows their voices to be carried to both local and global audiences. Participants in this session will have the opportunity to explore an interdisciplinary approach that combines literature and social studies and gain insight into the planning, execution, and performance that all begins in an educational environment that sees students taking healthy risks and embracing failure. The result is a memorable learning journey that allows all involved to create needed and lasting change in today’s world.

PRESENTERS: John Kerr, Teacher, PLG Team Leader, and Bryan Williams, Teacher, PLG Team Leader | Balmoral Hall School for Girls


Dream, Dare, Do: Are You Ready for a LeaderShift?

Learn through personal reflection, group work and case studies that shifting how you lead starts with learning that what got you here won’t get you there. Topics to be disussed include: telling your story; leading vs. managing (people and projects); understanding your personal leadership attributes and reputation; developing a plan of action to undertake an intentional “LeaderShift!”; writing a vision; and appreciating the power of mentors, advocates, and sponsors.

PRESENTERS: Lois Mufuka Martin, Vice President, Search & Consulting Services | CalWest Educators Placement, and Kelly Block, Director of Human Resources | Westridge School


The Effect of Game-Based Learning on MCHS Students’ Science 10 Test Scores

Game-based learning (GBL) is one of many approaches that enrich the classroom learning environment by increasing student motivation and engagement in learning. Specifically, in the male-dominated field of science, GBL could provide girls an opportunity for healthy risk-taking and embracing failures as a means to understand, appreciate, and improve their performance in the subject. The purpose of this study is to explore the role of GBL in improving the interest and test scores of girls in Science 10. The participants included 204 Grade 10 students in six classes of Miriam College High School (Quezon City, Philippines).

PRESENTER: Ma. Ana Marianne Delfin, Science Area Supervisor | Miriam College High School


The Elmwood Story Empowered by NoTosh: Educating the Women of the Future

How might we better articulate our curriculum? How might we rethink assessment?  How might we increase student voice in all areas of the school? These are some of the questions Elmwood School were brave enough to ask. Teachers and leaders from K to 12 embraced the NoTosh Design Thinking process, using the principles to tackle these large, complex, and challenging questions, issues, and ideas. Elmwood wanted to achieve a long-term and deeply-rooted change across the school. With support from NoTosh, they developed a proactive, focused, and ambitious program to create an even more engaging experience for students. This bespoke strategic program, co-designed with the school, has energized how the leadership, teachers, and students lead and learn. Join representatives from Elmwood School and NoTosh in a session designed to inspire, provoke, and celebrate innovation in girls’ schools.

PRESENTERS: Kynan Robinson, COO | NoTosh Inc, and Meagan Enticknap, Director Academics and Innovation | Elmwood School


Everyday Well-Being: Supporting Healthy Learning in Our Girls

In this workshop, we will explore the increase in incidence of stress and mental health issues, as well as the effects of devices and social media, on pre-adolescent and adolescent girls’ well-being. We will discuss the most effective methods to support the social-emotional well-being of Upper Elementary and Middle School girls by intentionally creating highly-effective and supportive learning environments. Approaches such as SEL programs, wellness curricula, mindfulness training, intentional-attention training, and digital citizenship will be discussed as well as how to support a school climate and culture of well-being and effective learning.

PRESENTERS: Linda Flaga, School Psychologist; Stacy Rivard, Head; and Autumn DeGroot, Dean of Students | Cranbrook Kingswood Middle School for Girls


From Mis-takes to First-Takes: The role of reframing errors in building innovators and entrepreneurs in the classroom

Management guru Peter Drucker famously quipped, “Culture eats strategy for breakfast.” What can that perspective teach us about schools and classrooms in our work to grow reflective, innovative problem-solvers?  In this session, we will highlight the importance of encouraging unabashed mistake-making and reflection, both for students and teachers, in developing a classroom and a school culture of joyful growth and innovation. Teachers and department chairs will learn strategies to move students and teachers from a posture of hiding “mis-takes” to one of reflectively embracing “first-takes” as we work to build schools in which all members – adults and children – celebrate learning as a reflective, iterative, and creative process.

PRESENTERS: Jemma Kennedy, Mathematics Department Chair, and Chris Luzniak, Mathematics Department Chair | The Archer School for Girls


The Full Span Advisory: Creating, Nurturing, and Supporting Spaces for Well-Balanced Girls

Our school has a daily, 30-minute Advisory class during which students are presented with thoughtful curriculum on which they are graded. In both middle and high school, socioemotional wellbeing is the main focus, with college access and mentorship added in the high school years. This is an intentional space that supports our girls in candor, trust, and fostering long-lasting relationships. The beauty and difference in our Advisory practicum is that we have a full span model: students remain in the same Advisory throughout their seven years at GALA. We would like to share our practicum, our curriculum, and the lessons we have learned and are STILL learning. We believe this is a model that can help schools looking to strengthen relationships as well as aid in academic growth.

PRESENTERS: Rose Agamegwa, Teacher/ Middle School College and Career Coach, and Rachel Knopfler, English Teacher | Girls Academic Leadership Academy (GALA)


Future Anything She Can Dream: Attracting Families, Inspiring Students, Engaging Alumnae

Lincoln School: Home of the Future. Leaders in the national movement to put girls first, we know Lincoln students are capable of anything they can imagine. This simple but revolutionary philosophy is the cornerstone of a recent collaborative campaign between our admission, advancement, and marketing departments to embrace the boldness fostered in our classrooms, mobilize our expansive alumnae network of powerful female role models, and galvanize this ethos into action. Future CEO. Future astronaut. Future rebel. Future president. Future anything she can dream. The results? Record numbers of applicants, messaging that deeply resonates with littlest learners to rising seniors, and countless meaningful connections forged between students and alumnae.

PRESENTERS: Ashley Rappa, Director of Marketing & Communications; Sue Farnum, Director of Admission & Financial Aid; and Molly Garrison, Director of Advancement | Lincoln School


Girls walkSTEM: Strengthening Identity and Broadening Participation in STEM/STEAM

This session presents a model of empowering girls using freely accessible resources. The walkSTEM® methodology was developed by talkSTEM, a Dallas-based nonprofit, in collaboration with Dr. Glen Whitney, Founder of the National Museum of Mathematics in New York. Public and private, elementary through high school – a broad spectrum of girls’ schools partner with talkSTEM to develop customized walkSTEM® tours of their campus. In this session, the wide variety of ways that walkSTEM® activities can pervade school culture will be described by educators from Dallas-based private and public schools and by the nonprofit.

PRESENTERS: Dr. Koshi Dhingra, Founder and Director | talkSTEM, and Laura Day, Executive Director, Service Learning and Social Impact Institute | The Hockaday School


Grit and Grace: How Social-Emotional Learning Enhances Leadership in Girls

How do we equip girls to dare? Overcoming their own reticence for individual or group action, they need tools to generate the impetus to take risks and to persevere. Our interactive session focuses on providing you with tools, including research-based lesson ideas and rationale, to create a learning environment that invites risk-taking and builds resiliency. The goal is intentionality; that is, to teach skills that lead to greater self-care and emotional intelligence. Faculty from Stuart Country Day School along with a professional development coordinator from The Institute for Social and Emotional Learning will share their programs and how implementation of SEL has helped girls become more capable advocates for themselves and others.

PRESENTERS: Jennifer Peck-Nolte, LAMFT, LS/MS Counselor; Denise King, Grade 3 Teacher; and Michelle Dowling, Head of Early Childhood and Lower School | Stuart Country Day School of the Sacred Heart; and Janice Toben, Co-Founder and Director | The Institute for Social and Emotional Learning


Growing Dreamers: How Two Schools built Professional Growth Programs for Faculty that Hold Innovation as Central Components

As schools work to catapult learning environments into spaces for risk-taking, innovation, and dreaming, it is essential to equip our faculty with the skills and competencies to transform their classrooms into spaces that encourage these behaviors. In this highly interactive session, you will have the opportunity to learn from administrators at two independent girls’ schools who built Professional Growth Programs for their faculty that honor and encourage innovation. Participants will have the opportunity to see what worked, what didn’t, and how the programs have changed over time. Walk away with two distinct models as research for your own school.

PRESENTERS: Amanda Neill, Director of Teaching and Learning | Ursuline Academy (DE); and Elizabeth O. Smith, Dean of Academics, and Corby Baxter, PhD, Professional Learning Coordinator | Ursuline Academy of Dallas


Inviting Imperfection: Strategies to Promote Academic Risk Taking in Girls

Research shows that we are socializing our girls to prioritize perfection over bravery. How do we reward girls when they take risks and cultivate their self-compassion for when those risks result in failure? This training, developed by the Center for the Advancement of Girls, features research on why girls avoid risk-taking and how we innocently reinforce that behavior. We will discuss research-based classroom strategies that promote and normalize risk-taking, while modeling vulnerability and self-compassion. Finally, we will recommend how to implement these strategies over the course of a curricular unit, especially in the areas of STEM, business, and entrepreneurship.

PRESENTER: Bridgette Ouimette, Director, Research & Strategic Partnerships, Center for the Advancement of Girls | The Agnes Irwin School


It’s All About Relationships! The Power of Appreciative Inquiry in Strategic Planning

Effective leadership today requires a high EQ. Regardless of school size, leaders must also become better interpreters of data on all fronts. Evidence – both objective and subjective – should be collected, analyzed, and better utilized over time to get the most bang for our. While this may seem unnecessary or contrary to your school culture, not partaking is a missed opportunity to better adapt to community needs in real time. By sharing lessons learned from Nightingale’s endeavors with appreciative inquiry in strategic planning, participants will gain an understanding of how data, when aligned with mission and culture, can elevate a school to the next level.

PRESENTERS: Nikki Vivion, Director of Strategic Initiatives, and Christine Javier, Director of Institutional Research | The Nightingale-Bamford School


Leadership in Literary Dialogues: Coaching Vision and Risk-taking in a Humanities Classroom

How do we bring the values of calculated risk-taking, experimentation, and student-driven coursework into humanities classrooms? How do humanities teachers create environments that privilege risk-taking over the path of least resistance, and how do we teach girls to replicate innovative, inclusive environments when they leave our schools? In this session, participants will explore and practice protocols for student discussion, which encourage collaboration over competition. Teachers will leave the session with specific coaching strategies that empower students to engage in inclusive, creative collaborations, as well as assessment models that reward growth and risk-taking.

PRESENTER: Monica Kirschmann, English Teacher | Miss Hall’s School


Learn to Make Light-up Handmade Journals for Use in Class

Have you ever wanted students to make a simple journal using common office supplies? How about a writing portfolio that is expandable and personalized? In this hands-on session, you will create two handmade journals. The first will be hand-sewn using pocket folders and copy paper. The second, more elaborate, expandable writing portfolio will use laser cut book covers and book posts. An added portfolio embellishment will be a light up LED circuit for the cover of the portfolio. We hope you will join us in exploring how “maker” skills can be incorporated into any subject.

PRESENTERS: Young Kim, Educational Technologist, and Erik Nauman, Educational Technologist | Hewitt School


Learning Environments for Growth:  Exploring facets of a “safe space” for growth in all-girls’ schools

How do we create a space where our students feel safe – safe to learn, safe to express themselves, safe to make mistakes and grow? An all-girls’ education offers young women the opportunities for growth in unique ways. It is important for young women to explore, grow, and express themselves. In this session, presenters will share from their own experiences as educators in independent and faith-based schools and offer strategies for building a foundation of mutual trust and security. Participants will also be able to share from their own experiences and offer ideas and best practices with each other.

PRESENTERS: Catalina Lara, Learning Support Specialist, and Juanita Jimenez, Ceramic Arts Teacher | Westridge School; Kristina Ortega, Chair, Religious Studies | Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy; and Marcela Yerena, Religion Teacher | Louisville High School


Let the Kids Lead: Cultivating student leadership and elevating student voice

Student voice is crucial to the success of our students AND our programs. Explore how student leadership can impact your school community by creating and implementing programs that are based on the needs of the school, promote a positive and solution-focused school culture, and ensure that your student leaders are diverse, equitably elected, and reflect a range of voices. Do you see the same students volunteering for leadership positions over and over? Do you wish your students had a way to share ideas, solutions, and feedback with your school administration? Learn practical frameworks to foster leadership in your students and build a school culture that values student voice at the highest levels. We’ll talk through examples of student-run programming, equitable elections, and proposal processes for student-driven solutions. Through session activities and small group conversations, we’ll offer a roadmap for transforming the opportunities for student leadership at your school.

PRESENTERS: Jessica Acee, Student Leadership Coordinator, and Michele Taylor, Dean of Student Leadership and Activities | St. Mary’s Academy


Making Space for Entrepreneurs: Classroom Design for Risk-Taking, Mistake-Making, and Ideas

What is required of classrooms that invite students to think and re-think their ideas? How much room is needed for students to test and re-test a product? Where should students pitch their ideas once they’ve been given a space to invent? Entrepreneurial programming isn’t aspirational: it’s necessary. In this session, we will explore student attitudes toward maker spaces and entrepreneur labs, consider research that supports best practices, and examine how the built environment enriches entrepreneurial learning. Together we will envision spaces for students to create and launch everything from products to business plans to dreams.

PRESENTERS: Baird Dixon, Principal; Tara Grenier, Education Studio Leader; and Tom O’Neil, Education Studio Leader | Orcutt | Winslow


Mindsets and Tools for Solving Big Problems: Building Tomorrow’s Talent Pipeline

A recent Gallup survey found that just 11% of business leaders strongly agree that graduating college students are prepared with the skills and competencies needed for real work. How might secondary schools start solving the talent pipeline problem earlier through an integrated curriculum that partners students with local businesses to solve real-work, complex problems through diverse teams? Learn about the benefits of a public/private partnership between Saint Mary’s School and District C, an education start-up. This partnership, delivered through Saint Mary’s new seminar course, re-imagines school, focusing on growth (not grades) and competencies (not content).

PRESENTERS: Alison Chernin, Academic Team Leader, Saint Mary’s School; and Anne Jones, Co-Founder, and Dan Gonzalez, Co-Founder | District C


The New Work Reality. The Future Begins Today.

Be educators who guide and empower learners to be compelled to action in a global community! Explore how partnerships can be formed with industries to develop open-ended authentic life challenges. Create a context that will inspire girls to innovate and become entrepreneurs with an altruistic focus making a difference to others. Learn how to explicitly teach design thinking, invite critical discernment and link the design process to future career pathways. Investigate how to use current resources in a world of work that is rapidly changing to inspire young people to engage in transferable enterprise skills in the classroom and beyond.

PRESENTERS: Melissa D’Amico, STEM Curriculum Leader; Nella Cirillo, Pathways Coordinator; and Greta Bajada, Head of Learning and Teaching | St. Columba’s College


PBL Real World Immersive Courses

At The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria, we have made innovation a part of our model. As a 6-12 all girls’ public school in NYC, we pride ourselves on leading the way for the next generation of leaders with real world learning, in real time, with real experts! How do we do this? We achieve this across all grades and subjects through a variety grounding philosophies, including the infusion of 21st century skills powered by student and teacher passion and choice. For two weeks, our “regular” courses stop, and we implement our Intensive courses. We dedicate ten full days, five hours a day, working with the same group of students on one project culminating in a public exposition. Students are assessed on skills – not “grades” – across assignments, providing them multiple opportunities to work on the same skill in a variety of ways. The courses focus on our 21st century outcomes and real world experiences, including visits from experts in the field or trips to see the field of study in action. Intensives range from fitness challenges and photography to set design and robotics. They are project-minded and student-centered, fostering authentic learning each day to dream and create.

PRESENTERS: Allison Persad, Principal, and Xenia Thomopoulos, Educator | The Young Women’s Leadership School of Astoria


Pop-Up School: A Place-based Learning Challenge

Earlier this year, seventh graders and their faculty unplugged to connect for two days on an field trip to the beach. We expected memories and laughter. What we weren’t expecting was the degree to which we observed our students’ curiosity and creativity blossom. Those observations led us to a crazy idea to inspire faculty and students to reimagine what learning could look like. We decided to challenge our middle school teams to kick our faculty and students out of the classroom and into the great outdoors to teach and learn. Each grade level team was tasked with teaching a regular school day in the wild. Their materials: students, pencils, nature, and each other – but not much else. Hear the creative ways they pushed and pulled their curriculum and each other to achieve a fresh kind of learning for our middle school girls.

PRESENTERS: Tonya Walker, Interim Director, Middle School, and Abigail Whorley, Middle School Teacher, Bible Survey and Chair of the Religion Department | St. Catherine’s School


Power & Purpose: Girls working as scientists, mathematicians and engineers

Participants will learn about a STEAM curriculum developed to engage girls in the work of scientists, mathematicians, and engineers. Based on Richard Louv’s efforts to restore children to nature, David Sobel’s push to engage children in place-based learning, and research from Laurel’s Center for Research on Girls, we know that to cultivate strong and resilient girls, they must think creatively, tinker, build relationships, and develop a growth mindset; and doing so in nature with purposeful problem-solving engages students deeply in their learning. In our outdoor classroom, Power and Purpose pushes girls to study facts, evaluate situations, and develop solutions in the face of novel, challenging situations.

PRESENTERS: Shannon Lukz, Grade 4 Teacher; Emily Felderman, Primary Art Teacher; Abbie Bole, Primary Science Teacher; and Margaret Juergens, Grade 4 Teacher | Laurel School


Promoting Positive Mindsets Towards Teaching and Learning Math

How do you support teachers and improve students’ perceptions and performance in math? This presentation shares Branksome Hall’s story. Recognizing the importance of evidence-based practice, students shared their math beliefs, teachers identified their professional learning needs, and a program was created to support healthy risk-taking and efficacy in math. Presenters describe the genesis of the math initiative, the role of research in the process, and the iterative nature of design, and will offer classroom examples of practice. In a group activity, attendees also consider the many levels of risk-taking and creativity needed to truly shift mindsets – whole school, faculty, and student.

PRESENTERS: Mira Gambhir, Director, Chandaria Research Centre, and Mary Fiore, Math Coordinator | Branksome Hall


The READ Dress Project: Student-directed STEAM inquiry

Research indicates inquiry-based approaches to Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics (STEAM) have many benefits for students, including better conceptual knowledge. Yet many teachers struggle to take up this approach. In this session, we present results from a year-long collaborative project where we engaged deeply with student-directed STEAM inquiry. Using student artifacts, student interviews, and our personal experiences, we will share outcomes (including students’ experiences/learning) and challenges faced throughout the project. We will conclude with suggestions for the kinds of supports and training teachers may require in order to successfully take up these approaches in their classrooms.

PRESENTERS: Limin Jao, Assistant Professor | McGill University; Dawn Wiseman, Assistant Professor | Bishop’s University; and Christianne Loupelle, Science Department Head, STEAM Coordinator, Teacher | Trafalgar School for Girls


Real Science Builds Resilience and Leads to Discovery

Come learn how research-based science programs expand girls’ capacities, building confidence and encouraging risk-taking and failure as natural parts of the learning and discovery process and integral to the field of science. We focus on programs that scaffold research-based science for students: 1) a core program involving the study of biology, chemistry, and physics in two years that uses lab experience to teach concepts; 2) advanced studies that partner with local universities to provide cutting-edge and individualized research experiences; and 3) collaborative projects with the Raymond Alf Museum of Paleontology that engage students in original research leading to scholarly publications.

PRESENTERS: Theresa Smith, Assistant Head of Schools, and Lisa Blomberg, Chair, Department of Science | The Webb Schools


Real-world Connections to Increase Girls’ Interest in Engineering and Computer Science

In order to develop programs that encourage girls to pursue careers in STEM (especially the physical sciences, engineering, computer science, etc.), we must establish supportive and collaborative environments that increase levels of confidence. It is also essential that we bring real-world connections through both academics and the introduction of female role models to spark their interest. This panel of veteran science and computer science teachers will present projects and classroom techniques to colleagues on how to establish engagement, confidence, and the interest of students, and how best to disseminate these goals to our stakeholders.

PRESENTERS: Jeannette Adkins, Upper School Science Instructor; Jennifer Vermillion, Director of Innovative Learning; and Cindy Beausang, Middle School Science Instructor | Saint Catherine’s School; and Hannah Bond, Upper School Science Teacher | Harpeth Hall School


Reflections on “Resistance”: What Girls’ Education Portends for Boys, Healthy Relationships, and Education

In her seminal 1982 work In a Different Voice, psychologist Carol Gilligan predicted that the research re-framing women’s psychological development would one day re-frame work on men’s development – indeed, the very idea of what healthy relationships between men and women would look like. In this workshop, we’ll explore the implications of Gilligan’s more recent work Joining the Resistance and Why Does Patriarchy Persist? for educators. Utilizing these works, we’ll demonstrate ways of working with film and literature that can help ensure that students are armed with the psychological competencies requisite for what Gilligan terms “healthy resistance.”

PRESENTERS: Randy-Michael Testa, Associate Director, PreK-16 Programs/Programs in Professional Education | Harvard Graduate School of Education, and Laura Hotchkiss, Associate Head of Academics | Marlborough School


Reimagining Curriculum/Reimagining Assessment

The paradigm shift in teaching and learning to a focus on student-centered learning requires a parallel shift in how we measure student achievement. We want our students to represent their knowledge in ways that are meaningful to them while receiving authentic, robust, and holistic feedback. But how do we accomplish that? Join us for an interactive session and discussion where participants will share their ideas, challenges, and successes in reimaging assessment in their own curriculum. Participants will leave with a curated, crowd-sourced toolkit of innovative, classroom-tested assessment strategies.

PRESENTERS: Eric Walters, Director of STEM Education, and Aruna Chavali, Science Educator | Marymount School of New York


Reimagining Your Portfolio of Work: Addition by Subtraction to Fuel your Future Success

Can your team stop doing something to enhance the impact of your future work? How might you re-home, innovate, or discontinue programs to focus on work that will truly move the needle?  Lessons from Lincoln School Advancement on what we inherited, how we shifted our portfolio of work, and raised more money as a result. Learn how we started giving to our alumnae instead of simply asking of them. Join us as we consider a bold question: What might be possible if we told our alumnae non-donors that we were no longer going to ask them for money? Let’s explore this unconventional idea – to stop soliciting and start engaging – together!

PRESENTERS: Molly Garrison, Director of Advancement, and Courtney Trafton, Associate Director of Advancement | Lincoln School


Research in the Service of Creativity

This session will introduce participants to the benefits and challenges of implementing a four-year research skills curriculum. Our research program is designed to cultivate intellectual curiosity, to provide an opportunity for students to explore new ideas and pressing global issues, and to carve out time and space for high-level source analysis and writing. Students come to understand the connection between rigorous academic work and creative and artistic endeavours while examining topics of their choice – topics to which they often have intense personal connections. This allows them access to realms of study beyond those presented through traditional high school coursework and departments.

PRESENTERS: Nora Murphy, Director of Library and Research Programs; Kristina Ortega, Chair, Religious Studies; and Emily Wilkinson, Teacher | Flintridge Sacred Heart Academy


The Role of Single-sex Education for College-bound Women, Revisited: A Multilevel Analysis

What characteristics and experiences exemplify women graduates of single-sex high schools? How do women graduates of single-sex high schools differ from their co-educational high school-attending peers at college entry? These questions and others form the basis for this session. Revisiting the 2009 NCGS report on the effects of single-sex schooling (Sax et al., 2009), this session will present findings from an updated collaborative investigation between NCGS, the Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA and University of Missouri-Kansas City. Using data from the 2016 Freshman Survey, we will identify ways in which women from single-sex schools are different from, and similar to, their coeducational school-attending counterparts. The audience will be invited to participate in discussion surrounding the results and how to foster success for young women attending all-girls schools.

PRESENTER: Tiffani Riggers-Piehl, Assistant Professor of Higher Education | University of Missouri-Kansas City


Single-Sex Schools in a Multi-Gender World: Lessons Learned from Research and Experience with Transgender Students at Girls’ Schools

Just a few short years ago, educators were scratching our heads as the intrinsically binary mindset of girls’ schools collided with a 21st century gender revolution which replaced categories of female and male with a spectrum of multiple gender identities. And yet now, many girls’ schools have stepped up to provide training, chart policy direction, and create protocols around transgender students in their communities. Using data from 100 girls’ schools around the globe, as well as two panelists’ descriptions of their own school’s experience, we’ll examine how girls’ schools are tackling this potentially mission-challenging issue with courage, creativity, and prudence.

PRESENTERS: Julie Mencher, Consultant/Therapist/Trainer; Jane Fried, Head of School | The Brearley School; and Nanci Kauffman, Head of School | Castilleja School


Supporting Girls in STEAM: Developing a STEAM Culture at Your School

When considering how to create educational environments that encourage girls to dream, dare, and do, we must intentionally design a school culture that reaches beyond the traditional classroom experience. In addition to coursework, students at the LWGMS experience STEAM in several aspects of our school program. The goal of this workshop is to share how our school culture supports students to construct their own positive narrative around being a girl in STEAM. Participants will leave with examples of programs to implement at lunchtime and after school along with small interventions during the school day that make a big impact.

PRESENTERS: Melanie Forbes, STEAM Teacher; Christine Zarker Primomo, STEAM Teacher; and Chelsea McCollum Giacolino, Teacher | Lake Washington Girls Middle School


Taking a Strategic Plan from a Dream to Reality

Learn how the Westridge School engaged its community in an inclusive strategic planning process focused on educating and empowering girls. You will discover how different constituencies were invited to join in the dreaming and planning process and asked to seek answers to the essential “Why?” of the school, as well as revisit its mission and purpose, develop a portrait of a graduate, and devise goals, action steps and accountability measures related to what it considers most urgent, important, and relevant.

PRESENTERS: Elizabeth McGregor, Head of School, and Holly Bowyer, Trustee, Consultant | Westridge School


Through Service, Girls Embrace Engineering and Creative Design

Does the project make a difference in the lives of others? Do the girls have the opportunity to give it to someone in need? When the answer to these two questions is “yes,” we see a higher level of student engagement, more confidence in risk taking, and improved quality of the final product. In this session, engineering service projects such as creating puzzles for memory care patients and modifying toys for children with disabilities will be discussed. This relationship between engineering and service has become the focus of a new Engineering and Design Honors Program that provides resources to girls exploring STEAM education.

PRESENTERS: Bryce Ormiston, Teacher; Kristen Schuler, Teacher; Robert Zdankiewicz, Engineering and Design Honors Program Coordinator; and Jeff Sutliff, Principal | Saint Joseph Academy


Truth or Dare: Teacher Edition

Inspired by the conference theme of “Dream, Dare, Do,” we want to offer conference participants an innovative way to share their reflections, goals, and conversations outside of the workshop spaces. We would like to post large, graphically-engaging posters in the hallways and communal spaces that ask “Truth or Dare: Teacher Edition” questions to encourage creative risk-taking and meaningful reflection. Conference participants can  “dare” to tackle pedagogical challenges or share their “truths” about their professional practice. Teachers can share informally and/or post their responses on a digital discussion board. The goal is to encourage meaningful connections, inspire daring next steps, and model how we can extend conversations outside of the workshop space.

PRESENTERS: Karen Pavliscak, Assistant Head of School & Middle School Director, and Gretchen Warner, Upper School Director | The Archer School for Girls


Want to innovate teaching and learning? Start by innovating curriculum planning!

Does culture change drive curriculum change or does curriculum change drive culture change? Five years after abandoning a curriculum mapping project that had fizzled, leaders at Burke’s school were faced with the challenge of re-engaging teachers and staff in curriculum work in a way that was purposeful, teacher-focused, and innovative. Through a multi-year project driven by teacher needs and guided by the Design Thinking framework, Burke’s emerged with a teacher-designed curriculum tool that fostered collaboration and empowered innovative and transformative teaching and learning. Learn about Burke’s journey and leave with strategies for leading curricular and culture change in your school.

PRESENTERS: Mike Matthews, Director of Curriculum and Program Innovation, and Michele Williams, Head of School | Katherine Delmar Burke School


We Built This City! Enhancing the Development of Cross-Curricular Connections and Learning Through the Design of a Sustainable City Sector

This presentation, given by four faculty members from Trinity Hall, will explore and showcase a rich and innovative interdisciplinary project that serves as a final experience for our sophomore students and incorporates design thinking into STEM, humanities, and world language disciplines by engaging students to solve an authentic problem. The intensive planning behind the project allows faculty to model the collaboration and problem-solving skills we expect our students to use in the implementation of the group project. Participants will receive an overview of how teachers can work across the disciplines to offer students opportunities for creativity, innovation, and collaboration.

PRESENTERS: Nicole Sadowski, STEM Teacher; Jennifer Havens, Humanities Teacher; Kali Lambrou, STEM Teacher; and Melissa Fairchild, World Language Teacher | Trinity Hall


What encourages girls to Dream, Dare, and Do? Essential steps for partnering with students, parents, and educators to create a culture of marijuana prevention

Many students believe that marijuana use and vaping are harmless. This stands in contrast to research findings that suggest that when students use marijuana regularly, they are more likely to struggle academically, experience mental health problems, and drop out of leadership roles. How can we protect girls’ ability to Dream, Dare, and Do? This workshop will highlight research regarding the impact of marijuana use and vaping on girls’ developing bodies and brains, share the most effective strategies for prevention at school, and review recommendations for empowering girls, parents, and educators to create a culture of health and prevention at school.

PRESENTERS: Sarah Ferraro Cunningham, Co-Founder, and Richard Von Feldt, Co-Founder | Panaptic


What Girls Need to Know About Artificial Intelligence (AI)

The prevalence of artificial intelligence (AI) has increased dramatically in the last few years. Many people are unaware that AI is a key technology behind personal assistants (Alexa, Siri, Google), autonomous vehicles, Netflix recommendations and new medical diagnostics. This workshop will discuss how AI can be taught to students based on a course piloted at Castilleja School last fall. The premise of the course is that all students should have an opportunity to understand this technology. Students also need to understand the limitations of the technology. Attendees will leave with resources they can use to introduce a similar course in their school.

PRESENTER: Kyle Barriger, Faculty | Castilleja School


Women who Make, Women who Scribble

“The point is these quilts, these quilts!” (“Everyday Use” Alice Walker) Alice Walker’s “Everyday Use” calls for communities to consider the importance of what they make and how the process informs their identity across generations. Walker’s text is the inspiration and a call to draw connections between what our students “make” and their identity formation. The process to design and build a legacy object will be mirrored in their writing process across the curriculum. Human-centered design drives action in the maker space, and our goal is to transfer this integral thinking to the writing process in the Upper School.

PRESENTERS: Elizabeth Oxler, Upper School Faculty; Rachel Mantooth, English Department Chair; Kitty Mattesky, Coordinator of Innovation Lab; and Yolanda Goff, Upper School Faculty | Academy of the Sacred Heart


You can’t be what you don’t see: Creating the agile female leaders of the Future

This interactive session focuses on how schools can prepare young people to be the best version of themselves by developing agile and inclusive leadership skills throughout the school. This ground-breaking collaboration between Edit Development (a global leadership consultancy) and St Paul’s Girls’ School embeds finding your purpose, growth mindset, contextual flexibility, agility, and inclusive leadership into the curriculum. Utilising technological solutions, girls have access to female leaders who can inspire, coach, and mentor, and bitesize webinar learning that is adapted for students from current leading corporate thinking around being the best version of self, resilience, and shaping your legacy on the world.

PRESENTERS: Helen Semple, Deputy Head, Director of People and Diversity | St Paul’s Girls’ School; and Claire Harvey, Director of Inclusion & Culture | Edit Development